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Iranian student caught in Trump's travel ban returns to the University of South Florida

Mehdi Zeyghami, here at a University of South Florida solar power plant, was in the process of finishing his Ph.D. when President Donald Trump imposed a travel ban on seven countries. Zeyghami feared he wouldn't make it back to finish his Ph.D. at USF but was granted an expedited visa and returned  Monday. [Courtesy of Mehdi Zeyghami]

Mehdi Zeyghami, here at a University of South Florida solar power plant, was in the process of finishing his Ph.D. when President Donald Trump imposed a travel ban on seven countries. Zeyghami feared he wouldn't make it back to finish his Ph.D. at USF but was granted an expedited visa and returned Monday. [Courtesy of Mehdi Zeyghami]

TAMPA — An Iranian graduate student caught up in President Donald Trump's on-again, off-again travel ban is back in the United States.

Meydhi Zeyghami, 34, arrived in Tampa Monday and has re-enrolled to finish is Ph.D. in solar technology at the University of South Florida, a university spokesman confirmed.

BACK STORY: Ph.D. candidate who went home to care for mother now stuck in Iran

Zeyghami returned to Tehran last year to care for his mother after she had open heart surgery. He planned to return for the spring semester and got word on Jan. 29 that his visa had been approved, but the following day, Trump signed an executive order that, in part, barred nationals from Iran and six other countries from entering the United States for 90 days.

Zeyghami had hoped to get his visa shortly after a federal judge temporarily blocked key parts of the order, but he learned that he would have to re-start the often lengthy application process. That was a problem because he had already twice renewed his I-20 certificate, a document issued by the Department of Homeland of Security allowing foreign students to study in America, and would not be able to renew it again when it expires later this year.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Zeyghami said he wanted to consult with university officials before speaking with another reporter, but he told WMNF 88.5 on Tuesday that he learned days earlier he would be granted an expedited visa.

Zeyghami told the station that some supporters had called the embassy on his behalf but did not say who. He hopes to finish his research and dissertation on passive cooling technology and graduate after one or two semesters.

Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Iranian student caught in Trump's travel ban returns to the University of South Florida 03/29/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 2:26pm]
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